History of our relations with the Mediterranean
The present cooperation between EU and Mediterranean countries is founded in the Barcelona Process, launched in 1995, with the signing of the Barcelona Declaration.
The Euro-Mediterranean partnership was renewed by the 'Union for the Mediterranean', an initiative by the then French President Nicholas Sarkozy and officially inaugurated on 13 July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean.
Through this initiative, the Barcelona Process, a broad framework of political, economic and social relations between the European Union and the Partners of the Southern Mediterranean, introduced three simple but essential principles: a political mobilisation at the highest level through Summits of Heads of State and Government every two years; a governance on an equal footing, in the form of a North-South co-presidency and a permanent secretariat with equal representation; a prioritising of concrete projects with a regional dimension that create de facto solidarity.
Besides the Summits of Heads of State and Government and the Ministerial Conferences, the parliamentary dimension is represented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM-PA).
The Barcelona Process is a unique and ambitious initiative, which laid the foundations of a new regional relationship and which represents a turning point in Euro-Mediterranean relations. In the Barcelona Declaration, the Euro-Mediterranean partners established the three main objectives of the Partnership:
1. The definition of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue (Political and Security Chapter).
2. The construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area (Economic and Financial Chapter).
3. The rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies (Social, Cultural and Human Chapter).
The EPP Group considers the development of an advanced neighbourhood policy as fundamental, which would contribute to a better understanding between the EU and its Mediterranean partners. The EPP Group promotes numerous initiatives to this end.
The EPP Group’s EUROMED working group meets on a monthly basis to assess the Group's action in connection with the UfM Parliamentary Assembly and to strengthen our political relations with southern Mediterranean parties and groups with similar political positions and values to those of the EPP Group. This involves cooperation with the European People’s Party and with our Members on the Foreign Affairs Committee. This working group is strongly committed to breathing fresh political life into Euro-Mediterranean relations.
The EPP Group favours a solidarity-based Mediterranean policy which is capable of meeting the multiple challenges of peace, stability, combating terrorism, security, mutual understanding and respect for human rights. Our Group works together with our Mediterranean partners to clearly identify priorities in areas such as migration, religion, environmental protection and the major challenges of education and training. We also work for women’s participation in economic, political and social life, women’s access to education and medical care and projects and programmes geared towards women.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM-PA) is presently composed by 260 Members, among them 130 European Members (81 from national parliaments and 49 from the European Parliament) and 130 from Mediterranean countries. EPP Group Member Tokia Saïfi chairs the Political Committee of the UfM-PA.
The creation of the Assembly, previously called the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, was a major political breakthrough that reinforced the democratic character and political dialogue of the Barcelona Process. Its creation was a long-standing goal of the EPP Group. In order to continue raising the profile of the UfM-PA, our Group proposes that it becomes an institution with mandatory consultative powers on Mediterranean-related issues discussed in the Council of Ministers of the Union for the Mediterranean. The EU Council and the Commission must work with and be present in the Assembly, which should be closely involved in preparing the two-yearly Summits of Heads of State and the annual meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of UfM member countries.
The EPP Group is developing an ambitious project to establish political affiliations within the Assembly, along the same lines as in the EP. All its Members will therefore be able to organise themselves into political groups according to existing political affiliations (over and above the current division between Mediterranean parliaments – European Parliament – EU Member State parliaments), thereby paving the way for greater integration and effectiveness.